A Reynolds School graduate, Jordan Berns, recently won the Vincentian Prize for Social Impact at the Big Shoulders International Student Film Festival for his documentary “Dreamer,” a film he created with fellow classmate Nick Larson in Nico Colombant’s web video class.
The Chicago-based Shoulders festival features student work from all over the world and promotes diversity and inclusion in storytelling.
Berns and Larson’s documentary follows Ricardo Lucio-Galvan, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, or DACA, who aspires to become a professional boxer. Lucio-Galvan’s heritage and passion drive him as the film follows him from working out at 5 a.m. every day to gearing up for a professional fight.
“I was very impressed by the dedication Jordan Berns and Nick Larson put into the “Dreamer” short documentary, which was their final project for the web video class I taught several semesters ago at the RSJ,” Colombant said. “Their work ethic, vision, discipline and follow-through for video storytelling is awe-inspiring.”
Berns said he’s always had a love for sports. While a student at the Reynolds School, he started a student-run sports media network called Pack Center, which produced podcasts, videos and the documentary Berns’ showed at Big Shoulders. He was inspired to do a documentary on Lucio-Galvan after his roommate told Berns about him.
“All of my films have been heavily character-based, and I pride myself on creating strong relationships with the people I interview,” Berns said.
Berns said he was instantly moved by Lucio-Galvan’s story. “He was inspired by boxers like Mohammad Ali who boxed for a cause. Ricardo took that influence and became a fighter for DACA.”
Larson, who filmed and edited the documentary, says he hadn’t realized he wanted to work in video until taking Colombant’s class. He bought his first camera soon after and was approached by Berns in that same video class.
“If you told me that a few months after buying my first camera that I would be ring side filming a professional boxer, I would think you were crazy,” Larson said. “Overall, I consider myself extremely lucky to have that as my first video project.”
Patrick McDonald, a film critic and jury member for the Big Shoulders Festival, praised the film for its dream-like atmosphere and colorful backdrop of Reno locations, as well as the film’s training montages, a must for any boxing film, he said. In his review, he said “Ricardo’s montages always contain the symbols for his purpose… the boxers who inspire him, the flags of the nations that he represents and his deep inner purpose, the distant and imagined goal captured in his eyes.”
Berns, who’s currently working at KCAT TV in Los Gatos, California as a social media coordinator and producer, isn’t done yet with documentaries. He’s working on another documentary about working homeless in Silicon Valley and wants to “capture the emotion and struggles associated with working full-time and still being homeless.”
Berns and Larson still work together frequently.
Dreamer is available online for viewing.